For Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing it was an almost Dickensian tale of two seasons, which is altogether fitting because until this year they were two teams. Josef Newgarden performed brilliantly in a break out year scoring his first two career wins, while by contrast Italian Luca Filippi and especially Ed Carpenter who platooned in the #20 car performed rather poorly.
Newgarden had an outstanding year, winning in fine fashion at both Barber and Toronto – where Filippi finished second – and scoring his first ever pole position at Milwaukee’s Methuselah Mile. In his best season yet, the young Tennessean came in seventh in the championship with five top fives and nine top ten finishes. He was running at the finish in thirteen out of sixteen races and remember, one of those DNFs was when Ed crashed him out at Fontana.
In ten starts on road courses, Filippi managed twenty first in the championship with the one top five and four top tens. Not having Ed to dodge helped, as he was running at the finish of eight races, an encouraging stat. Filippi showed flashes of speed at times, including Toronto where he started sixth before his best ever finish.
Carpenter who’s won three oval races in his career really stunk up the place this year, with four DNFs due to crashes and mechanical issues. He crashed in practice at Indy blowing his shot at three consecutive poles and then again in the race. In a partial season of six starts, Carps managed no top fives, only two top tens and twenty seventh in points. He did engage in a memorable dust up with Sage “Wild Man” Karam in Iowa, making his displeasure with the rookie’s driving crystal clear.
Photo from usatoday.com
It’s a good thing the oval specialist is a part owner of the outfit, for he was running at the finish of just two races. After a year like that, Ed’d be seeking employment elsewhere under different circumstances. Alarmingly too for Carpenter, that’s in a series where ovals are rapidly disappearing from the schedule, unfortunately.
Photo from sports.usatoday.com
CFH suffered a stretch of awful luck and brain fades from Indy through Texas, though Newgarden’s second victory north of the border helped salvage the season. The team’s an all American family affair, with Sarah Fisher and husband Andy O’Gara teamed up with Ed and his stepfather Tony George as well as Wink Hartman and his wife “Libba.” They’re easy to root for and this season’s mixed success is somewhat encouraging, at least for half of the team. Let’s just hope the other side of the shop can start keeping up, else as we’ve long worried the new CFH marriage may not last.
2015 Grade: C+
2015 Midseason Grade: B+
2014 Grades: Ed Carpenter Racing B+ / Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing D